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Physiological plasticity of antelope to buffer climate change

Abstract
In the face of climate change, the life history traits of antelope will prevent them from adapting genetically at a sufficient pace to keep track with the changing environment, and habitat fragmentation will preclude most individuals from shifting their distribution range. Predicting how antelope will respond to hotter and drier environments predicted to occur in southern Africa requires measurement of their sensitivity to changes in the environment, as well as the extent to which physiological plasticity can buffer them against the changes. Temperate zone ungulates face food shortage in winter,at a time when they also face extreme cold stress. Their physiological responses include a pronounced seasonal decrease of metabolic rate, lowered body temperature, decreased locomotor activity, shrinkage of the digestive tract, and a significant reduction in voluntary food intake. In contrast, antelope in southern African arid zones face food shortage in hotter conditions, and often experience water shortage simultaneously. Whether they respond similarly to temperate zone ungulates is unknown. In this study, we wish to examine how the blue wildebeest, a water dependent species shown previously to exhibit a seasonal reduction in body temperature, responds physiologically to variation in resources in an arid zone environment. We will measure metabolic rate, body temperatures and activity in eight free-living blue wildebeest in the Kalahari for two years. Furthermore, gut microbiota of the animals will be examined in order to investigate if seasonal changes in the bacterial community and gastrointestinal tract morphology will aid nutrient extraction or energy preservation in resource poor periods. Understanding what capacity antelope have to buffer changes in the environment is crucial if we are to conserve species in a climate-changed future.
Kurzbezeichnung
Physiological plasticity of antelope
Projektleitung
Stalder Gabrielle
Laufzeit
01.01.19-31.12.20
Programm
OeAD - Wissenschaftlich-Technische Zusammenarbeit (WTZ) - Südafrika
Art der Forschung
Grundlagenforschung
Beteiligte Vetmed-Organisationseinheiten
Institut für Lebensmittelsicherheit, Lebensmitteltechnologie und öffentliches Gesundheitswesen in der Veterinärmedizin, Abteilung für Lebensmittelmikrobiologie
Forschungsinstitut für Wildtierkunde und Ökologie
(Weitere) Projektpartner
Kontakt: Prof. Leith Meyer
University of Pretoria , Pretoria, Südafrika
Kontakt: Prof. Yoshan Moodley
University of Venda, University Road, Limpopo Province, 0950 Thohoyandou, Südafrika
Gefördert durch
Österreichischer Austauschdienst GmbH, Ebendorferstraße 7, 1010 Wien, Österreich
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